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Born Blind (4)

This is the last entry in the series concerning the events recorded in the ninth chapter of the Gospel of John.

From John 9 verse 13 onward is the record of how some of the people dealt with this notable occurrence, a work of a type clearly not performed by any man on earth, this remarkable miracle and sign from God.

Some of the neighbors took the healed man to the Pharisees. This is where a set of denials of the working of God led first to division and then to delusion. At the same time, the faith of the man that had been healed began to grow more as he began to fully realize the magnitude of the gift that he had been given. His explanation of the events when asked how that he could see was simple and straightforward: “He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see.” And by verse 17 the man who had been healed had also made the connection that Jesus was (at the very least) a prophet. Yet as his faith grew, the delusion and contrariness of the skeptics and disbelievers also grew.

Therefore some of the Pharisees said, “This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” Others said, “How can a man who is a sinner do such miracles?” And there was a division among them. They said to the blind man again, “What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?” He said, “He is a prophet.”

They did not believe either the empirical evidence or the report of it. Yet it had been verified beyond a reasonable doubt as to who the man was and what in fact had happened to him.

How do you suppose you would react? If you had been a neighbor or passer by what would you have come away with? Perhaps you’re thinking that you would have believed all that you had seen or had been told. But I rather suspect that would be putting hindsight before foresight. I suspect it might turn out different from the way we think it should be. You and I would likely do exactly as these people did – some accepted the work of God, and some also tried to explain things rationally where there could be no such explanation. Some argued about the things that had taken place. While the rest had no intention of accepting what had happened. A miracle of universal power had occurred, natural law had clearly been suspended, and some could not deal with it on its face. It ran contrary to what they knew.

You and I would probably think and do similar things. We see the common and less than common today, and many marvel and call it a miracle. These had witnessed a true miracle and some called it trickery. We look at things based on our limited knowledge and background, with our myopic sight and not necessarily with the freshness of a seeker or of a new witness. So did they. We may have been awed and in wonder as to what had happened and how it could have possibly happened; and yet some of us would probably have rejected it as a trick just as the Pharisees.

The man’s parents were brought into the fray. Notice what it says at this point – “But the Jews did not believe concerning him, that he had been blind and received his sight, until they called the parents of him who had received his sight.” Talk about contrary people – they won’t believe what their senses tell them no matter what. Some did not believe the man they already knew was the one that had been healed until the parents came over and identified him. Perhaps they thought the old “switcheroo” had been played. Still not believing the events themselves, they ask if the parents know if this was really their son. Have you ever thought about how absurd this question was and how absolutely contrary the people are that had asked it? Following this with more absurdity they ask if the parents know how their son came to see. They asked, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; but by what means he now sees we do not know, or who opened his eyes we do not know. He is of age; ask him. He will speak for himself.” Notice how this was worded: is this your son who you say was born blind – by this tone to note that perhaps these two had been deceiving all of the inhabitants of Jerusalem for all of their lives as to whether or not their son could see. The miracle is obvious and they can’t admit to it. Do you see how rationality makes unreasonable things seem reasonable and vice versa? It suggests that perhaps these three had a running fraud ongoing for 40 years, perhaps anticipating when they might spring the endplay off in the future and let it be known that their son could really see. What was their gain to be calculating and playing such a caprice over nearly half a century?

His parents made a remarkably muted response to all this. They said, “He is our son and was blind, but as to how he has come to see, perhaps you had better ask him.” If this isnt a stifled reply, there has never been one. Wouldn’t you be overjoyed if your son or daughter for all time blind came home one day and it was plainly obvious that though never previously able to see, that somehow they had received their sight? As I said a moment ago, would you not know that a notable miracle had taken place and wouldn’t you be dumbfounded? I think that I would scarcely be able to hold my tongue and not be able to speak without shouting or breaking into song and in praise for Gods grace and mercy. This man alone in all of history was the recipient of this gift and I should think his parents would be awed by the mystery of it all. I should think that I would have sought out Jesus wherever he had gotten off to, to praise him, to offer to have him over for the honor of having him into my home, or just simply to thank him. But these say, “Ask him.” You know something or someone has put the heavy clamp on their joy and the apostle tells us just what that was. “His parents said these things because they feared the Jews, for the Jews had agreed already that if anyone confessed that He was Christ, he would be put out of the synagogue. Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him” (v. 22).

There was a social stigma attached to being cast out of the synagogue. That would be tantamount to you or I being taken to the county line and told not to come back. The synagogue was not only the place of worship, it was the equivalent of the town square, the school, the seat of government, and the community center all rolled into one. To be cast out of the synagogue meant that you were a castaway from the entire community – so you might as well start looking for a new town that would have you. The man’s parents obviously knew that their son had been healed. They may likely also have known the details and who it was that performed the healing, as persons blind would not be traveling about under their own devices, and thus the parents may well have been nearby or present when the healing took place. Yet in all this they are unwilling to stand or to commit to the truth. Again I ask how is it that you think that you might act given the same set of circumstances.

Acquiescing to the fact that this is indeed the man who had been born blind, and that he indeed could now see, the Jews say, “give God the glory, but as for this man (Jesus) we know he is a sinner.” I suspect that this may refer to some of the Jewish leaders believing that Jesus had been born out of wedlock, in fornication (“We do not know where he is from.” v. 29), as when they also had said, “But as for us, we know our father.” It at the least meant that they considered him a sinner for eating and consorting with those whom they considered to be sinners.

But most of all, they simply did not care what had taken place; they were not going to accept that Jesus was doing the work of God. They will not believe what has occurred before their eyes or the truth. The message they delivered to the crowd was, “don’t trust in what you have seen, heard, and know, but do what we (that is the Pharisees and Rabbis – or the reverends and priests) tell you to do, for we are better educated and are certainly better equipped to figure things out: and you friend, are not.” As the fellow said, “what are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?”

This is exactly the tact taken today to explain why baptism is not necessary to salvation, and how certain teachers state that many of the clear and plain precepts of God need not be followed.

Yet faith is in full bloom, and even with opinions to the contrary the righteous are starting to flourish.

Notice verse 25, after the Jews told the formerly blind to give glory to God, they then noted that in their opinion that Jesus was a sinner, to which the man responded: “Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see.” There had been no deception that he has “seen” and this man plainly states what he knows: where once he couldnt see; now he can. He is shown to be wiser in the end than those surrounding him as he states that it is not his business to judge Jesus – sinner or not – and all he would affirm were the essentials of the event – he could see. The Pharisees and the rest of the Jews there are as contrary in their assessment as he was accurate in his.

Things cannot be simply stated when they run contrary to doctrine, or against the standard party line. Politics won’t let some folks tell it straight. They ask the man healed to tell them again how it is that he had received his sight. Perhaps this time hed stumble over the details, perhaps hed get angry and they could censure him. But now he has grown wise to their intrigues, and when asked again, he is now bold in his response and gives them a dose of their own medicine.

Then they said to him again, “What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?” He answered them, “I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?” Then they reviled him and said, “You are His disciple, but we are Moses disciples. We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from.” (Verse 26 through 29)

The simple man once blind refutes the doctors of the law using their own arguments, and asks them in veiled sarcasm or simple weariness with the playing, whether that if he tells them once again how he was healed by Jesus , will they then seek to become Jesus’ disciples. They show that they still cannot tell whether Jesus is good or evil, from God or from elsewhere. So we have come full circle: those who thought they had sight have none and the one that couldn’t see turns out to be the only one that can.

And so the healed man was made an outcast. And when it says they cast him out, as we had mentioned earlier, that means that they cast him out of the synagogue and he was then a social and religious pariah. We can only wonder if they cast out his parents too, but we have only silence to answer on that. This was an attempt at damage control. They felt compelled to do this to keep this man out of the company of their followers and the community general so that they could maintain the status quo if at all possible. But it wouldn’t be possible to contain such things.

By the time that this man was cast from society, his faith had become full-grown. It comes to the ears of the Lord that the man had been cast out (and all for simply being the recipient of a wondrous deed and for telling the truth), and the Lord sought him out.

Jesus heard that they had cast him out; and when He had found him, He said to him, “Do you believe in the Son of God?” He answered and said, “Who is He, Lord that I may believe in Him?”

And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen Him and it is He who is talking with you.” Then he said, “Lord, I believe!” And he worshiped Him. And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”

The man’s faith was completed with his confession that Jesus is the Son of God, just as ours should be. Remember that all of this is before the cross by some months and the man is not a Christian – but he certainly is a believer in the Son of God, the one who had healed him and had given him sight; and his faith became so strong that he risked damage to both his name and his station (any that he may have had or might have in time gained) by honoring Jesus and telling of his healing. He could have remained silent and likely nothing would have come of his silence. But to remain silent would have been tantamount to denial. The record says, “He worshipped Him.”

I think that someone once said in paraphrase perhaps to Jesus words here (although the concept is sound-the saying itself is not in the scriptures) – “there are none as blind as those that refuse to see.”

Jesus repels the self satisfied, the ones who feel secure with what they are, with who they are, and with what they know, and draws the downtrodden and those longing to see beyond the day. It is no wonder that the writer Mark states that the “common people heard him gladly.” So it was with this man.

Some less convinced of their knowledge and witness asked, “Are we blind too?” And the Lord said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, “We see. Therefore your sin remains.” Those that asked this still didn’t understand what they had seen with their own eyes, and the implication of the healing, and they didn’t grasp that they had been in the presence of God and witness to incredible things. If they understood what they had witnessed they would have never asked.

What about you? What do you see? Do you believe what you hear of the Son of God even though you were not witness to the healing of a one born blind, or any other healing for that matter? Do you believe what you have not seen? What will you ask? How would you respond? Will you say, “Who is he that I may worship him?” Or will you be asking “am I blind too?” What will the answer be?

Are you ready today to name Jesus as the Lord and Savior and to confess that he is the Son of God? Are you ready to do as he has instructed you, just as he did the man born blind? Not by going to the Pool of Siloam as this man was commanded, but to be baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, as all have been commanded – to act upon his instructions that you may have life and be able to see – to leave the blindness that is the world.